Storybooks to help transition kids to big school
17 January, 2024
Starting big school is an exciting milestone. Help your child ease into school by sharing picture books that will show them just what to expect on their first day.
New experiences can be easier when children (and grown-ups!) know what to expect and are involved in getting ready. Read these storybooks with your child to open up conversations about starting school. You can help build their excitement and work through any concerns they may have before you’re stuck in back-to-school traffic!
The Wild Guide to Starting School
This book is spot-on. It outlines all the elements of a day at school, with a healthy dose of silliness to help little ones relax. The school children are introduced as a menagerie of native Australian animals, reflecting the diversity of the playground. Little readers are encouraged to start the day with a filling breakfast to power them through the day and given tips on everything from making friends to what to pack in their school bags. The illustrations are colourful and full of fun. I particularly like the picture of the teacher’s brain, divided into segments allocated to wisdom, kindness, nursery rhymes and “Oh my, which one just farted?”!
The Wild Guide to Starting School is written by Laura Bunting, illustrated by Philip Bunting and published by Omnibus Books.
Ready, Set, Big School
It can be comforting to know you’re not the only one in a new situation. This s begins with a teacher visiting a group of children before they start school, subtly reminding us that big school is a new experience for all the students. Favourite Play School characters such as Jemima and Big Ted show how they are preparing for big school by practicing how to pack their lunchbox, put on school shoes and introduce themselves to potential new friends. It’s a gentle introduction to big school that acknowledges all the feelings and quietly encourages kindness.
Play School Ready, Set, Big School is written by Jan Stradling, illustrated by Jedda Robbard and published by ABC Books.
This endearing story sees a mum and her little girl getting ready alongside each other on the first day of school. The illustrations are filled with love, sharing the pair’s strong bond and obvious affection for each other as they eat breakfast together, pop on their new shoes and do each other’s “fancy” first-day hairstyles – to wear under their hats, of course. Cleverly, the words can be read either from the mum’s point of view, or that of the daughter, further accentuating their bond and highlighting that they share the same first-day jitters. Read it first one way and then this other! Then, just like in the book, plan a place to meet when the bell rings.
First Day is written by Andrew Daddo, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley and published by Harper Collins Childrens Books.
The Crayons Go Back to School
This is a jaunty book that captures the excitement of returning to school. The characters are different coloured crayons, who each love different aspects of school: writing, maths, reading and, of course – they are crayons after all – art! The illustrations are bright and cheerful, with fun, colourful endpapers. This story may inspire children to pull out their own crayons and draw a picture of their holidays, or perhaps themselves as a crayon at school.
The Crayons Go Back to School is written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and published by Harper Collins Childrens Books.
The Starting School List
A big brother reassures his little brother that everything will be fine in this loving story about starting school. In rhyming prose, the big brother shares his list of key points, including: it will be ok; parents might cry at goodbye, but they’ll be fine; there will be lots of different kids, but they’re all just like you and, perhaps most importantly; school is fun. They’re fantastic messages and loaded with credibility coming from an adored older sibling.
The Starting School List is written by Kitty Black, illustrated by Cate James and published by Affirm Press.